Can the Aggies Beat LSU?

Athens/Georgia Game:

Before I get to anything on the LSU game I have to touch on Athens, Georgia.  Athens is far and away the best college town I’ve been to.  The combination of their Downtown and campus is the best I’ve seen.  Lots of schools have a downtown or entertainment district across the street from their school but the size and variety of Downtown Athens isn’t like anything I’ve been to.  Downtown Athens has plenty of bars and places to eat along with some nice hotels to stay in.  If you ever get the chance to take in a college football weekend in Athens I highly recommend it.

Sanford Stadium didn’t stand out to me in any way but it’s a great college football venue.  That’s not a knock on Sanford but I don’t see it being much different than Bryant-Denney, Jordan-Hare, or Tiger Stadium.  All great stadiums but nothing truly amazing.  A lot of the stadiums in the SEC kind of blend together.  As for amenities we don’t realize how good we have it with new Kyle.  Kyle may not have the best atmosphere in college football but as far as amenities I think it’s up there.  It’s probably the best.  $250 million well spent.

As for the Georgia game itself the refs certainly didn’t help the Aggies at key moments but let’s be clear – The Aggies just didn’t do enough in the first half to win the game.  We couldn’t establish the run and even the great Braden Mann didn’t help with field position.  We do more offensively in the first half and those lack of calls might not have mattered.  You can blame the refs all you want but I’m blaming the Aggie offense for playing from behind all game.

I thought the defense played outstanding all game long.  They DEFINITELY played well enough to win.  Jake Fromm missed a few big passes that could have swung momentum in Georgia’s favor but he didn’t make them.  The Aggie defense went toe to toe with one of the best teams in the country for four quarters.  If the offense scores more points in the first half the Aggies walk out of Sanford with a win.

I thought Deondre Swift was the difference in the game.  His ability to get outside and to the next level was crucial in keeping the chains moving for Georgia.  Right when it looked like the Aggies could swing some momentum their way Swift would have a run that moved the chains for another set of downs.  The Aggies certainly don’t have anyone near his ability in the backfield.  He’s a special talent.

In the end Jimbo didn’t abandon the run soon enough and his preferred style of play didn’t work.  I put this loss on Jimbo.  He got fooled into thinking he could have some semblance of a running game like he did against Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and South Carolina.  His defense was playing good enough where he could keep trying to get a running game going.  Isiah Spiller carried 11 times for 7 yards.  That’s .6 yards per carry.

By the time Jimbo abandoned the run and went to the air it was too little and too late.  It was very reminiscent of the Clemson game where he mis-judged the ability of his offense against it’s opponent.  Hopefully Jimbo learned a lesson in Athens for the LSU game.

Can the Aggies Beat LSU?

While LSU seems like an unbeatable team let me give you some interesting nuggets on their season so far:

  • They played Texas within 7 points winning 45-38. It was in Austin but it’s also the same Texas team that needs to beat 4-7 Texas Tech to have a winning record.  Texas ain’t back.
  • Vanderbilt scored 38 points on LSU. LSU scored 66 so it was never close but giving up 38 to Vandy is bad.  That 38 points ties the highest point total for Vandy all season.  The other team Vandy scored 38 on?  East Tennessee State.
  • Florida lead by Kyle Trask at quarterback had LSU tied at half 21-21 and then Florida took a 28-21 lead early in the second half. This was in Death Valley.  LSU roared back to score 21 unanswered points.  LSU would win 42-28 but the Florida offense is no juggernaut and they put up 28 points on LSU early in the game.
  • Auburn played LSU to 23-20 in Death Valley. I think Auburn is a slightly better team than A&M but Auburn gave LSU a game in Death Valley.
  • They had a 20-point lead on Bama at half and wound up winning 46-41. It was in Tuscaloosa but LSU let Bama back in the game.
  • Against Ole Miss LSU gave up 402 rushing yards. The majority of that was by the Ole Miss quarterback in the second half when the game was well in hand but that’s not a good look by the LSU defense.

With all those facts above let me be clear – LSU is a damn good football team.  They’re certainly an elite team this season.  I’m just saying they’re not invincible.  I put the Aggies chances of winning at 25% but it’s not an impossible task as LSU has shown some holes this season.

For the Aggies to win it’ll come down to Jimbo Fisher.  If Jimbo stubbornly rolls out the same game plan he’s used the entire time he’s been in Aggieland the Aggies will lose.  If Jimbo rolls the dice and takes shots early I do believe the Aggies can win.  That means the Aggies must score the first touchdown and keep up the pace.  If the Aggies don’t score the first touchdown it’ll be a monumental task to come back.  LSU will likely bury the Aggies in Death Valley if the Aggies don’t take an early lead.  The Aggie offense must come alive early in the game and that’s on Jimbo.  It’s the 12th game of the season and he must know what his team is capable of.  Jimbo must give his players a chance to make he plays.

I know a lot of people don’t like Kellen Mond.  He’s far from perfect but he’s simply following Jimbo’s orders.  The slow pace of snapping the ball is a direct order from Jimbo.  If it’s not Kellen should have already been replaced.  The false starts and delay of games are on Jimbo as much as the players.  Jimbo is trying to slow down the game and it hasn’t worked against teams with more talent.  That has to change against LSU.  We have to see an Aggie offense we haven’t seen in the Jimbo era in Aggieland.

My greatest fear is Jimbo seeing other teams run on LSU.  He’ll spend a good portion of the first half trying to establish the run while LSU is putting points on the board.  It’s what we saw against Clemson, Auburn, and Georgia.  By the time the offense started moving the ball it was too little and too late for the Aggies to come back and win.

Jimbo has been enamored with winning time of possession since he got to Aggieland.  It’s a sound strategy with the defense he has but against LSU time of possession won’t matter.  You must score points to beat this LSU team.  Jimbo must have this offense ready to score from the first snap.  No mindset of making methodical drives.  Taking shots to score must be the mindset.

Defensively I think we’re strong enough to slow LSU down.  Burrow is probably the best quarterback in college football so they’re going to get points through the air but I do think our defense can make the LSU offense work for points.  Our defense has played well all season and has gotten better as the season has worn on.  Defense won’t be the issue against LSU assuming you go in knowing LSU is going to score at least 24 points.

Here’s what I think is going to happen:

LSU will get the opening kick and will drive down to kick a field goal.  The Aggies will get the ball and run for a first down on the first two carries.  Jimbo will stick to establishing the run and it’ll eventually stall out where the Aggies will punt.  LSU will score on a big play to go up 10-0.  The Aggies will get the ball back and try to establish the run once again.  The Aggies will fail to drive the ball very far and punt.  LSU will get the ball back and drive down to kick a field goal to go up 13-0.

At that point Jimbo will finally start passing and the Aggies start moving the ball.  For the rest of the game the Aggies and Tigers will trade some combination of points.  The Aggies will cover the spread but will never have a real chance of beating LSU.  It’ll be the same thing we’ve seen all season with the Aggies against the elite teams.  They won’t be embarrassed but they won’t have a real plan to win the game either.

 

I really like Jimbo.  I get what he’s doing as a coach.  He’s building a program to elite status.  His offensive line is junk and his secondary is questionable.  He’s winning the games he should win and recruiting to fix the issues.  He got handed a terrible schedule in his second year and next year we could likely jump to a 10-win team as the schedule changes dramatically.  I understand his long-term goal and agree with it.  He’s building a culture and style of team.

However, for one game I want him to channel his inner Gus Malzahn and roll the dice on a strategy nobody sees coming.  Run some plays that could catch LSU off guard even if those plays could blow up in your face.

LSU is the better team.  That much is clear.  We’ve seen this movie already with Clemson, Bama, and Georgia.

Do what Auburn did to us.  Find some potential weaknesses on the LSU defense and run some plays they never saw coming.  Take a damn chance on winning this game.  It’s entirely possible.

In the end I think Same Ol’ Jimbo makes the game plan and the Aggies never have a chance to win.  Just once I want to see River Boat Jimbo give it a shot even if it means we get our ass kicked.  I’m tired of moral victories.  I want the upset.

#MAFGA

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We’ll do a re-cap of each game throughout the season along with some other things like game previews for bigger games.

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